Faith, hope and love. I’ve written about faith in the last two entries of this blog. I briefly touched on hope in the blog entry about serving a life sentence. But I would like to address love in this blog. The many expressions of love I experienced this week have buoyed me up. I was speechless as so many reached out in love to me. A friend built a beautiful water feature in our back yard as I lay in the hospital. Another friend I haven’t seen for several years called to assure me of his prayers and desire to come see me. Another young man took time from his vacation to come by and pray for me.
But when I think back, this week is really no different than most weeks. My church family surrounds me with assurances of their love constantly. My children tell me of their love regularly. My grand children also express their love for me in some amazing ways. And my dear wife of 46 years tells me she loves me every day.
As grateful as I am of all these assurances of love from people, I have to say I have been most surprised by the depth of love I have felt from my Father in heaven. I have known the Lord all my life. I never went out into a life-style of rebellion. But growing up in the Family of God all my life, I got used to God’s love and probably even took His love for granted. I don’t think I really appreciated the depth and power of His love toward me until recently.
Taking time to be in His presence in a special way the last few weeks has opened up a whole new world to me. I’ve always known God loved the whole world enough to send His Son to redeem it through His sacrifice on the cross. And there have been moments when God’s Spirit broke through to me and I have had a revelation of God’s love that has overwhelmed me. But there is something about walking through pain and trusting my Father in a whole new way that has opened up new realms of God’s love I never knew before.
Man was designed for intimacy with God. It was the chief activity of Adam and Eve in the garden—to walk with Abba Father in the cool of the evening and just be with Him. This surely is a lost art for most of us. We are never silent long enough to hear Him speak. If it is not the television, it is the ipod or the computer that fills our ears and minds with clutter. This inability to be quiet before God creates a vacuum in our spirits that is not content with the noise of the world. How long has it been since you took a half hour, turned off every appliance, read His Word and just listened? That last part—listening—is the crucial part. Even our daily time in God’s Word can be cluttered with thoughts and “insights” that, valuable as they are in themselves, still do not satisfy that place in the heart that can only be filled with focused intimacy with Father God who loves you. This is one of the things He is looking for: Jesus said there will even be those who call themselves by His Name, but who will be turned away because they never “knew” Him. And the Father earnestly seeks those who will worship Him. Why? Because He is a megalomaniac on steroids? NO! Because He knows that is what we are created for and what will fulfill us best.
I urge you to take a new look at some old, familiar scriptures about the love of God. Take out your concordance and begin looking up every scripture that mentions God’s love for us. Of course, start with John 3:16, but really meditate on the profound depth of that verse. So often our view of Abba Father gets tainted by the world that looks at God as a tyrannical judge who can’t wait to mete out punishment. But the point of verse 17 is that Jesus didn’t come for that purpose—He came to show us God’s love.
Have you ever thought about how close Jesus is to His Father? Is there anything they wouldn’t or couldn’t share? What do you think their time together looks like? John 17 holds one of the most amazing promises of the entire Bible: Jesus says of you and me: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me."
Amazing! God the Father, Creator of the universe, Eternal Lord of all, loves you just as He loves Jesus, His Son. Stop and consider that. Love is at the core of your existence and it comes from your Father God. Have you taken time to just soak in His love? If you find it hard to accept that love because of past hurts in your life, ask Holy Spirit to heal those wounded areas so that you can live in this reality of God’s love.
Now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.